Coventry, West Midlands - Frankly, I thought the idea was low-voltage insanity. The signature feature of the original Jaguar E-Type was the untamed growl of its magnificent XK straight-six engine; take that away and all you’ve got is a very pretty golf cart.
But apparently a lot of people disagreed with me after the original concept for ‘the most beautiful electric car in the world’ was first shown at the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest in September 2017 - and even more after Prince Harry drove his new bride to their wedding reception in it in May 2018 (since it was something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue - all in one!).
So now Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works will be offering for sale bespoke, fully restored original E-Types converted to full electric power or, alternatively, they’ll convert your own existing E-Type to electric motorvation. In either case, the conversion involves no modifications to the original chassis, so it’s completely reversible.
How it’s done:
Jaguar has raided the I-Pace parts bin and put together an electric powertrain with single-speed reduction gear specifically for the E-type, powered by a 40kWh battery which is about the same size and weight as the original engine. It takes about seven hours to recharge from flat and Jaguar is targeting a planned range of more than 270km.
The battery pack is mounted where the engine used to be, with the electric motor right behind it in place of the original gearbox, driving the original differential and final drive (still regarded as way ahead of its time, with inboard disc brakes and independent rear suspension) via a custom-made propshaft.
The suspension and brakes are undisturbed, as is the car’s near perfect front-rear weight distribution, so the conversions handles, stops and goes like an original E-Type - except that it’s a bit quicker off the mark than an original 3.8-litre Series 1 model, and it sounds like a vacuum cleaner with an attitude problem.
The only other changes are LED headlights behind the original plexiglass fairings, modified instrumentation and an (optional) modified dashboard featuring the latest touchscreen infotainment system - which looks horribly out of place but keeps you connected while you’re on your nostalgia trip.
Technical specifications are still to be finalised but Classic Works is already taking 'expressions of interest' for electric E-Types, with prices starting at around £350 000 (R6.4 million) and first deliveries planned for 2020.
It’s easy to dismiss the conversion as being aimed at the hipsters and millennials who drink craft beer and play vinyl records on Crosley digital turntables, but there will come a time in the foreseeable future when it will be illegal in many places to drive into the city centre with a combustion-engined vehicle. Nevertheless, you'll still be able to arrive in style in your electric E-Type, just like the Prince and his Duchess.